Attari (Punjab): As many as forty-eight Sikh pilgrims from Pakistan arrived at the Attari-Wagah border in Amritsar to further commence their 25-day pilgrimage to different parts of India.

Sikh pilgrims from different parts of Pakistan arrived at the Attari-Wagah border on Wednesday.

During their 25-day visit, they will be visiting Amritsar's Golden Temple, Delhi, Uttarakhand and Hemkund Sahib.

"48 Sikh pilgrims from Peshawar and other parts of Pakistan arrived at the Attari-Wagah border. They will be visiting Amritsar's Golden Temple, Delhi, Uttarakhand and Hemkund Sahib. They will stay for 25 days post which they will return," said Arun Pal, Protocol officer. Jatha leader Satinderpal Singh said they will first visit Golden Temple in Amritsar and then they will go to Delhi and Uttarakhand.

"First we will go to Golden Temple in Amritsar and then will go to Delhi and Uttarakhand. Mainly, we are here to visit Hemkund Sahib. We have 25 days Visa," said Singh.

Visas to the Sikh pilgrims have been issued under the Pakistan-India Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines of 1974, which provides visas to pilgrims for the visit of Sikh pilgrims from both the countries

The 1974 Protocol on Visits to Religious Shrines between India and Pakistan is a set of principles that was implemented while keeping in view the sentiments and devotion of the various communities in the two countries.

The protocol states that such visits from one country to the other shall be allowed without discrimination as to religion or sect; up to 20 parties may be allowed to visit from one country to the other every year, while the number could be revised from time to time; Every effort should continue to be made to ensure that places of religious worship mentioned in the agreed list are properly maintained and their sanctity preserved, the Ministry of External Affairs had said in a statement.

Indian Sikh pilgrims also visited Pakistan to pay obeisance at Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib. Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib, also known as the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, is located in Pakistan's Narowal district across river Ravi. It is one of the most significant historical and spiritual places for Sikhs.

According to historians, the first Sikh Guru (Guru Nanak Dev) arrived in Kartarpur between 1520 and 1522 and spent the last 18 years of his life there. In Kartarpur, he laid the foundation of the Sikh religion.

The Kartarpur corridor connects the Darbar Sahib Gurdwara in the Narowal district of Pakistan with the Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district Punjab, India.

Thus, many Sikh pilgrims could not visit the Darbar Sahib Gurdwara without a visa, even though it was merely 4 kilometres from Indian borders.

In 1999, then Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif proposed this corridor under the Delhi-Lahore bus diplomacy.

In 2018, the Government of Pakistan approved the construction of the corridor. On November 26, 2018, Indian Vice President, Venkaiah Naidu laid the foundation stone of the corridor from the Indian side, and two days after, on November 28, 2018, Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan laid the fountain from the other side of the border.

On the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, the Kartarpur Corridor was completed and the first batch of Indian pilgrims was sent to visit their holy pilgrim place.

The Kartarpur Corridor was thrown open in 2019. The corridor was built to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev, founder of Sikhism. —ANI



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